An infrastructure for building policy capability – lessons from practice

Paper by Sally Washington: “The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of good systems for policy and decision-making. An effective policy system depends on robust policy capability. This article articulates key dimensions of policy capability based on the practical experience of policy practitioners from a range of jurisdictions. It briefly draws on the literature on policy making and organizational capability before situating the key components of policy capability as mutually reinforcing parts of a policy capability infrastructure. These include “supply side” components of leadership, policy quality systems, people capability, and effective internal and external engagement, as well as the “demand side” component of the political administrative interface that shapes and is shaped by policy capability in the public service. This framing of policy capability as an infrastructure broadens the definition of policy capability from a narrow focus on people and skills to a systemic approach that includes the range of systems and processes that enable and support good government decision-making. The article argues that the policy capability infrastructure could serve as a useful and generic analytical framework for describing, assessing, and improving policy capability in teams, organizations, or across an entire public service. Policy leaders are invited to test the framework and share their insights and results, including with colleagues in academia. If it works in practice, it might also work in theory…(More)”.